Shooters in the United States have often noticed that the label on the Glock pistol case comes in different colors. Why? Well, with everything Glock, there’s a reason. Let’s dive into the meaning of the various colors.
It should be noted that the various colors discussed here really only started when Glock went to the clam-shell style cases. This occurred after the beginning of the Gen 3 pistol production. Early Gen 3 pistols still came in the old Tupperware style cases that were updated to fit pistols with finger grooves.
There are at least seven pistol case label colors used on Glocks seen in the U.S.:
White: Low capacity magazines (mags do not exceed 10 rounds). This was to comply with states with magazine capacity limitations. This includes (at one time or another):
California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. White label pistols are often now referred to as “California compliant” pistols.
Red: High capacity magazines (high capacity mags hold 10+ rounds)
Blue: High capacity magazines. The buyer must meet blue label requirements to be eligible (see https://us.glock.com/en/buy/blue-label-program). Can also be govt/mil contract guns.
Purple: Contract overrun guns. Can be sold to anyone, and are not required to meet MAP pricing. Could be just overseas/export contract overruns. These also don’t usually show the quantity or capacity of the magazines on the label in the normal middle-lower space. And they often don’t show the type of sites or trigger weight in the upper-middle space.
Orange: Factory rebuilt guns. Can be sold to anyone, and are not required to meet MAP pricing
Green: U.S. manufactured for export. These also don’t usually show the quantity or capacity of the magazines on the label in the normal middle-lower space.
Yellow: Rebuilt (in two cases I’ve seen, Gen 4 MOS, and cutaway). I’ve heard that yellow labels are just faded orange labels, or just maybe a different supplier of labels for the rebuilt guns. That’s certainly plausible.
For Gen 3, white and red label come with 2 magazines, blue label come with 3.
For Gen 4 and later, all guns regardless of label color come with 3 magazines. An exception to this is the slimlines, which come with two magazines.
I’ve written before about how the SKU number in the upper right is broken down to signify the details of the pistol. See that info at Product SKU Number Breakdown.
Here is a breakdown of the product/SKU numbers found in the upper right corner of the case label. These only appear on pistol cases seen in the U.S., regardless of where they were manufactured. Label formats are different outside the U.S. There are plenty of deviations from this list from Glock, which should be no big surprise. I’ve documented over 500 625 different SKUs just since Glock went to this format with the Gen 3 guns. Note that this is constantly evolving, and I’ve even seen some new info pop up just since the 43X and 48 were announced. If you have a label that has characters other than what is listed here, let me know. I’d love to see a case label and info so I can investigate.
Note that it’s common to see SKUs listed that start with ‘GL’. The best I’ve been able to determine is that is a prefix that distributors like Lipseys add for internal use. The ‘GL’ is not part of the true Glock SKU number. Below each SKU is a UPC code that correlates to the SKU.
In the sections below, I break down the various characters, using the example SKU of PI2350202T. The bold items are the ones that are most common.
Prefix 1 – PI2350202T
E = US manufactured for export (green label)
F = Federal agency – non-military (red label on the ones I’ve seen)
G = Rebuilds FET IN (orange label)
M = Military P = AU manufactured U = US manufactured for domestic/Canada
Known anomalies are:
The U.S. manufactured Gen 4 17T, with a SKU of PG1050202, which would indicate Austrian manufacture.
Prefix 2 – PI2350202T
2 = SF ES 1913 Rail Military
3 = SF 1913 Rail Military
4 = ES 1913 Rail Military
5 = 1913 Rail Military
8 = P80 reissue
7 = SF GR MB
9 = SF 1913 MB A = Gen5
C = Cutaway
D = Practice
F = SF GR G = Gen4
H = 21SF RTF2, 30S I = Fxd or Adj Sight / Gen 3
L = Reset
M = M Series
N = Night sights
R = Rebuilds FET OUT T = RTF2 X = Crossover (used on the 19X and 43X)
Pistol Model – PI2350202T
This is just the numbers in the model of the pistol. A Glock 17 would be ’17’, as would a 17C, 17TB, 17R, 17P, 17T, 17L, etc. Known anomalies to this logic are:
0 = Standard
1 = Standard with lock
2 = Standard C with lock
7 = Green
8 = Green C
9 = Standard C
A = Threaded BBL
B = Flared Magwell/Practice
D = RTF/SP1
F = Flared Magwell
P = M Practice Series
R = M Reset S = Serrations – seen on newer production Gen 5 pistols with front serrations
SL = Silver Line – used on the 43X and 48
T = M T-Series
Sight type – PI2350202T
0 = No sights
1 = Adjustable 2 = Fixed
A or 3 = AmeriGlo sights
4 = Steel Fixed
5 = TALO / Export Lumi.
6 = TNS
7 = GNS
8 = Non-Glock sights
PA455S3G03TB (only seen on two SKUs so far, both Gen 5 guns with suppressor sights and threaded barrels)
G – unconfirmed – likely an indicator of suppressor sights
Options – PI2350202T
0 = Standard
1 = XSS
2 = XMC
3 = XSS, XMC
4 = Steel front only
6 = Screw on TNS
7 = Screw on TNS / XSS
A = (unknown – seen on a 19M with PM195F7A2)
M = Maritime Spring cups
Magazine – PI2350202T
0 = 3x 10rd mags / LE Domestic (blue label)
0 = Special mag Config Export 1 = 10rd or less commercial (white label) 2 = LE/GSSF (blue label) 3 = Hi-Cap / Commercial (red label)
4 = Unique Special Order Export Cerakoted Order Domestic; Distributor exclusive
5 = FBI POW Program (although I’ve seen them with a 7 as well)
6 = Engraved/Special Serial #’s (Glock U.S.A.)
7 = Engraved/Special Serial #’s (Glock Austria) – examples include the 20th anniversary pistols
8 = Unique Special Orders Domestic
9 = FBI / ATF special configuration
A = Orange follower w/TFP
Unique Identifier – PI2350202T (I have seen a pistol that had multiple unique identifiers. The military MK27 MOD 1 has a ‘MOSU’ identifier), and some of the variations on the G45 include MOSTB, MOSTBDE, and MOSTBGF, among others.
2 = (no sure, but used on the G48)
A = Orange follower w/TFP
AB = AmeriGlo Bold
AC = AmeriGlo Co-witness
AM = Arabic Manual
B = 15rd 9mm Magazines
BA = 9rd 9mmm Magazines
BC = (not sure – used on battle-worn & slide cuts model by Chattanooga)
BFG = Battle Field Green
BT = Bold TALO
CS = G23 mag w/10 coil spring
CSN = Consecutive Serial #
D = Dark Earth
DE = Dark Earth
EM = Extended Magazines
ESB = Enhanced Signature Barrel
FGR = Finger Groove & Rail
FM = French Manual
FR = Front Rail (seen on the 43X and 48 with light rails)
FS = Front Serration
GF = Grey Frame
GMB = Glock Marking Barrel
H = Holster
L = Nickel
M = Mag Pouch (also see this on some ‘C’ models)
MB = Mag /Bag Combo
MOS = Modular Optical Sight
MS = Manual Safety
PM = 2+ & 1 Standard mag
PN = 1+ & 1 Standard mag
SL = Glock branded Streamlight TLR-7AH in FDE
T = T Pack
TB = Threaded Barrel
TBF = Tactical Brown Frame
U = UID Frame
UTM = Ultimate Training Munitions
X = 4 mags each case
C = Compensated
ES = External Safety
FET = Federal Excise Tax
GNS = Glock Night Sight
GR = Glock Rail
MB = Ambi Mag Catch
NY = New York
POW = FBI Personally Owned Weapon
RTF = Rough Texture Frame 2
SF = Short Frame
TNS = Trijicon Night Sight
XMC = Extended Mag Catch
XSS = Extended Slide Stop Lever
XXX = Non-Glock firearms
1913 = Piccatiny Rail
UPDATE: By the way – I wrote a quick Excel calculator to break down an entered product SKU. Just enter your SKU in the colored field and hit ENTER. The spreadsheet does use macros, but only for the functionality of the buttons. Download it here.
NOTE: This spreadsheet doesn’t take into account some of the anomalies or recent changes listed above.
Different Style Labels Outside of America
For pistols made outside of the U.S. that are not destined for the States, Glock uses an entirely different label format and SKU. The SKU number appears to just be a 4 or 5 digit number.
With the exception of the Glock 19X and Portuguese Army pistol’s coyote slides, the 43X and 48’s silver slides, the red slides on the Gen 5 ‘P’ guns, and the blue slides on some of the ‘T’ guns, Glock only makes guns with black slides. If you see one with a slide of any other color, including NiBX, it’s done after the gun leaves the factory – usually by a distributor who does a special run.
Glock has only ever made color-molded frames in
OD (‘Olive Drab’)
BFG (‘Battle Field Green’) – exclusive distributor is Amchar in N.Y.
FDE (‘Flat Dark Earth’ or simply ‘Dark Earth’) – exclusive distributor is Lipsey’s in LA
gray – exclusive distributor is Lipsey’s in LA
coyote (only with the Glock 19X, the 17 made for the French Army, and the 17 made for Portugal’s Army. Also used on the 19MHS and 23MHS guns submitted to the military trials)
Red and blue are only used in training guns (17R, 22P, 17T, etc.). Any other colors (purple, burnt bronze, red & blue, pink, white, Robin’s egg blue, ‘battle worn’, American Flag, dessert sand, etc.) are aftermarket.
If the serial number plate is the same color as the frame and not silver, or the back straps are not the same color as the frame, it’s aftermarket (although some cerakote shops will also do the back straps).
Some gun shops will tell you that these aftermarket guns are factory colors. The best reason I’ve seen for that is because that’s how they receive them. But gun shops get their guns from distributors – who are generally the ones who do these special runs. They don’t typically get them directly from Glock. The gun shop staff just don’t know any better.
As for the differences between Gen 3 and Gen 4 pistols, as a generalization:
Gen 4 pistols have the different grip texture (known technically as “RTF3”), dual spring Recoil Spring Assembly unit (with frame and slide changes to accommodate), larger & reversible mag catch (not ambidextrous as some claim), and four back straps. Gen4 guns are built on the SF frame, resulting in a shorter trigger reach and shorter heel depth than the Gen 3 guns (about 2mm). The SF frames also use a smaller trigger housing mechanism. Gen 4 guns use a “dot” connector instead of the Gen 3 unmarked connector. Gen 4 guns have an updated trigger bar. All Gen 4 guns come with 3 magazines, whereas only the blue label Gen 3 guns came with 3 – white and red label come with 2.
Some Gen 3 models are available in a factory threaded barrel version (to support compensators and silencers). Some Gen 3 and 4 models are available in a factory ported version – although not all models are available in both generations. Some Gen 4 pistols are available in a MOS (“Modular Optic System”) version to support optics. Some Gen 4 pistols are available in a few more factory colors (including Gray, and BFG) than Gen 3 pistols. Both are available in black, FDE, and OD. These are all color molded frames with black slides (the only color Glock makes), trigger, mag catch, slide lock, and slide stop lever. Gen 4 includes color molded back straps. Some Gen 4 guns are available with front slide serrations and extended controls (mag catch, slide stop lever) as well as steel sights.
From a maintenance perspective, the recommended replacement threshold for the Gen 3 recoil spring assembly (RSA) is every 2500-3000 rounds. For the Gen 4, it jumps to every 5000 rounds.
Some will point to the fact that the Gen 3 has been around for years, and thus, is proven. Well, so has the Gen 4. Production on Gen 4 guns began in 2009. I think that’s sufficient time to be considered “proven”.
Some will say the “finish” is different. Glock made a change to the metal treatment process (which is applied to the bare metal, before the finish), starting in 2007 (and that transition was completed in 2010). That original process was known as “Tenifer”. The change to the newer Melonite process caused subsequent guns to have a finish with a slightly different appearance, but a higher HRc rating, which is good. It’s not about the generation of the gun that dictates the finish, but WHEN the gun was manufactured. A Gen 3 gun and a Gen 4 gun both manufactured on the same day will have the same finish.
This is a living post and will be updated as I get more info.
Here is information about the various roll marks you may see on Glock barrels, slides, and/or frames.
The pentagon indicates polygonal rifling, which all Glocks use. A pentagon without a dot in the middle means the barrel is from grade 5 steel. Pentagon with a dot in the middle indicates grade 6 steel. Neither symbol has anything to do with +P and/or +P+ compatibility. For +P and +P+ info, see https://us.glock.com/customer-service/faq. The Austrian government eventually required the 3D in the oval, which replaced the pentagon symbols. NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) created a 3D ballistics database for research to positively identify bullets fired from specific barrels. The 3D database will help draw positive matches between a fired bullet and the barrel it was fired from. Barrels marked with a 3D are in the database. Ballistic experts can strategically identify the correct source, but it’s not 100% accurate. For more info about the database, see https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2016/07/nist-3d-ballistics-research-database-goes-live. It’s important to note that the evolution of these symbols should not be interpreted as there are issues with the components with previous marks.
The “AT” indicates it was made in Austria. Newer barrels made in Smyrna, GA have a “US” and a little outline of the state of GA.
From 1982 to 1991, Glock 17 pistols were assembled & test fired in Austria. (Later pistols were also assembled and test fired at Glock Inc. in Smyrna, GA.) Those barrels have an eagle roll mark. The eagle with the number 2 in the center is Austria’s coat of arms. The number 2 in the center of the coat of arms means it was proofed at the firing proof house in Vienna, Austria. You’ll also see this mark on frames from the same period.
The ‘NPv’ is the Vienna proof house roll mark for ‘smokeless powder proof for parabellum pistols’. The pistol was tested using a round loaded to at least 130%. Normally, Glock guns are tested with 120% loads. The markings are proof marks and inspectors marks as required on Austrian pistols that they met the 130% requirement. Many of those NPv marked guns have “Glock Inc, Smyrna GA” stamped on the bottom of the trigger guard.
Sometimes, you’ll see three letters after the NPv on Austrian made barrels. Those are date stamps to indicate when the BARREL was test fired (note that does NOT necessarily mean when the pistol was built). Eventually, Glock did away with those three letter codes. Unofficial information I have to decipher those three letter codes that are on the barrel (not the serial number) are:
The first letter is for the month:
The last two letters are for the year: